Usually when I’m talking about the “lived-experience” of having a disability on my blog, to a friend, or to my mother, I’m talking about people’s outward ignorance, or a physical challenge. This often translates into some story about some average joe telling me I’m an inspiration, or about how it took me 25 minutes to get out of bed that morning, or that I almost died going over a curb downtown.
What’s less discussed is the impact of being not quite fully seen by society. Yes, disabled people have rights. But as a country, we have a long way to go before our biases and internalized beliefs about PwD being scond-class citizens is entirely erased from social thought. Here’s a list of ways and situations being seen as less-than-fully-human continues to impact my life. Bare in mind that I in no way speak for other PwD, only myself, and maybe my friend Andrew:
– When you’re rarely included in friend getaways because the venue is inaccessible and your friends are embarrassed by this, so they simply don’t invite you. You have other friends right?(It’s great when all your friends think this, resulting in a total of 0 people to go out with). Think: school prom, house parties, vacations, spring break trips etc.Or they do, and then you have to comfort them when they realize not every inaccessibility hurdle can be overcome with wherewithal and positive thinking.
– When you’re only ever invited to short coffees or the pre-drink but not the actual event, because the event isn’t accessible. (Sorryyy! OMG next time I promise!)But the inviter has other friends, who don’t constantly ask if things are accessible, and then look sad when you say it’s not.
– When people give you unsolicited advice, not because you’re particularly close and you asked, but because they’re in a real or perceived place of power and you weren’t doing things in congruency with their opinions. Suggestions like: “you should eat more,” “You should go out more” and “You should kick that French guy out of your house,” are my faves. Yes, they might’ve been right about the guy. No, they shouldn’t have said anything–that’s for me to figure out. Because I’m a full–even if a little dumb at times–human being.
– When people make up rules about what can and cannot be accommodated in terms of accessibility, your personal care, or your financial situation because they are uncomfortable with you challenging the way the system functions, or believe your life, on some level to be less valuable than theirs, and anyone else’s. Read: I can’t help you shave your body, I have to go for a smoke/eat pie/go complain about my job to my coworkers, all encompassed in “Sorry, we don’t have time for that.” Get back in your place, bitter cripple.
-When the government gives you a pretty sick ass apartment, that they help you pay for, in some corner of the earth so that you can exist for longer than nature might’ve otherwise allowed. No, you didn’t do anything to earn it, except keep living. The government just doesn’t know what to do with you. Here: have this call centre job also. Of course you’re a full person. Here’s $100 bonus to reward you employment efforts and prove we really do like you. The ultimate financial headpat. Now calm down, and lower your employment expectations.
– What, you want to travel? You’ll lose your government money, don’t do that! Stop being so ambitious. You have everything you need, stop pushing it. Of course we see you as a full person. If it wasn’t for us, you’d be homeless.
– When you pee your pants because the nearest wheelie bathroom was four blocks away (But the waitress at the non accessible restaurant was really sorry her bathrooms only work for ablebodied people, though). Also, why aren’t you a super-human who dehydrates yourself or has somehow learned to hold their pee for an eeon? Isn’t that what all disabled people are?
– When you tell your family/friends about your new boyfriend/girlfriend/sexfriend and they’re all a bit too excited that someones agreed to satisfy your basic human need. Like, they’re literally grinning over the words “What does he want from you, really?” instead of thinking someone might actually consensually agree to seeing you.
– When the people who help you with care mistakenly assume your life for a soap opera, in which they are the main character and you and the other clients are their puppets. And that they have the right to know why you don’t want to be their friend and gossip with them about Wheelie Universe. Calm down, it’s not like your drama actually matters, you shouldn’t be so rude with all your…boundaries.
Yup. Now stop bitching and go be your best self, until it starts to bug everyone. Then do it more.